***Disclaimer: This post is primarily for people who have, are experiencing, or will experience the other side of “The most wonderful time of the year” .***
Preparing for the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year”… ugh!:
Here a few tips to better your holiday experience.
It is nigh. We can feel the wave coming. It is the wave of emotions crashing on the shore of our hearts. It is the Holiday season and it is upon us. Where most people welcome this “Most wonderful time of the year,” with excitement and anticipation there are others, like you and me, who cringe at the thought of what is to come.
When they say most wonderful time of the year, are they referring to that time where many of us feel the most depressed? Or the time where we waste most of our money? Or the time when we become the most passive aggressive, judgmental, anxious, and argumentative? Or worst of all, the time when we hide our true selves in order to make it through the day? That time where we are hesitant to book our tickets to visit “home” fearing what will transpire there. Take your pick.
Everything and everyone around us tells us we should be jolly, but our hearts betray us as our feeling stay grounded in reality. The media starts flooding us with advertisements to buy things we cannot afford. Holiday movies on rerun fill our eyes with images of happy families we do not know. Facebook posts from others begin to profess heartfelt thanks for things we do not have. The atmosphere becomes filled with cheerful music we cannot find the heart to sing along to. We cannot help but roll our eyes at these calls for joy and we cannot avoid the inevitable truth: the holidays are a mixed bag that we would rather not carry around.
So, what do we do? How do we handle our hint of hatred towards the holidays? Do we escape? Do we hide? Or do we cope? Should we cancel our tickets? Not by any means! Instead, let us prepare. We will prepare our hearts for the Holidays. And the best way to prepare is to “BE”:
Yes, let us be:
Let us be honest to ourselves:
Let us be honest about how the holidays can make us feel. Sometimes the holidays bring out the best in us. There have been years where this season has filled us with cheer and we feel closer than ever to our friends and families. But there have been times where we have felt low and next to despair. In these situations we need to be more cognizant of ourselves.
Awareness can often be the key to a wonderful or disastrous holiday experience. It is important that we check our emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental thermostat as we enter the holiday season. One of the best ways to enjoy our time with our loved ones is to do a selfie. You know, a self-evaluation. Let’s do a thorough examination of our hearts as we enter this season.
Let us be honest about our financial situation. The holidays have an incredibly funny way of creating holes in our pockets and purses. It’s like all of sudden our budgets, spare cash, and credit cards possess a mind of their own. Essentially our money gets caught in an avalanche and onslaught of guilt, people-pleasing, advertisements, sales, and the god of Black Friday! The result of these encounters is that we are left broke, frustrated, and disappointed. So let us be mindful of our spending and revisit our budgets.
If we don’t want be a broke as (fill in the blank) then we need to go back to the basics. Apportion our giving, saving, and spending. Let our wallets reflect the love we have for each other. Let’s make our money produce life to our families, friends, and communities.
Let us be intentional.
Let us be intentional of our time. When the holidays roll around, where will we place most of our energy? Shall we spend hours in search of the ‘perfect gift’ or slave away to create the Norman-Rockwell dinner experience? Will it be in avoidance of meaningful moments and deeper conversations?
Will we spend time with people? Will we choose to talk and play with each other? Will we actually cry together and talk about the people we are missing this holiday season? Will we be present to each other, instead of present to presents?
Let us be intentional in seeking people. May our hearts be soft and filled with compassion. May we seek to draw “the least of these” and the lonely into our company and community. May our hearts turn outward and then inward. Let us seek more meaningful ways to be around each other. Let’s craft a schedule of events that will draw us together. Let us eat at the same table.
Let us be givers and receivers.
Let us be givers and receivers for the Holidays in 2013. We will give. We will do it from the heart. We will give from a place of love instead of fear. We will give with our hearts instead of only with our hands. When we give, we will start from the core of our being.
We will give of what we already have. We will give no more than we can afford or that which is detrimental. We will not hurt ourselves in giving. Of course, there is caveat to this- we will give sacrificially. We will use wisdom in this however. Remember that gifts come in many forms. Let us give of our time, money, presence, and all of the others way that may come to mind.
Let us receive in this season. Some of us are so guilty of this. We never receive from others. Let us open up ourselves to our friends and family this year. In doing this, receive people just as they are. We will be ourselves as we are and we will allow others to do the same!
Let us be forgiving.
Let us forgive this season. This is a really hard one to swallow, nevertheless, we must be determined to free ourselves from bitterness. Especially since this time of the year tends to remind and resurrect old wounds. Wounds that we have carefully buried. Wounds that we have carried for ages. This is the year that we will address our pain and begin our healing. We must be adamant. We will not be engulfed by unforgiveness this year!
To do so we must face the pain that lies dormant within us. We must confront the pain and name it. We must admit that it hurts and that we are hurt. We must be willing to confront the perpetrators- both from our own doing and the pain caused by others. We will seek the greater way of love. We will love others by dealing with our family and friend conflicts. At the very least, let us pray for those who have hurt us.
Let us be ourselves.
Let us be the person God created us to be. Probably the worst part of the holidays is when we put on masks, when we pretend to be something that we are not or feel something that we do not. We often do this out of the fear of what others might think or say about us. We live in the shame of being different, committing ourselves to be led by our wounds and fears instead of love.
It is shocking to realize how often and how quickly we revert back to our childhood selves as we return to our hometown. All of a sudden old habits and ways of thinking creep within our psyche. In a twinkle of an eye our authenticity leaves us. At this juncture our true selves goes on hiatus. When we do this we mute the glory of who we are.
Can you be your real self this season- both with your beauty and flaws? I hope to do the same. Let us enter every situation as our true selves. Let us put our away our masks this year. Let us give the gift of authenticity. After all, people love us more when we simply are who we are.
In this season just be.
If have any other ideas of how we can better prepare for this holiday season, please leave a comment below. Let’s encourage each other in this endeavor.
(Thanks Chris Berryhill and Kevin Gonzaga for the editorial touch)